Slobber, The Talking Cat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


I never hang out with anyone my cat doesn’t approve of.

Submitted: August 12, 2018

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Submitted: August 12, 2018

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Boy, how my life changed after I adopted Slobber.  That was sixteen years ago.  I remember the day he showed up on my porch.  He was a skinny kitten, obviously a stray.  Normally, I’d run off any cat meowing at my window.  But there was something about this one.  I opened the door and he walked in, with an air about him.  Like he owned the place.

 

The first thing he did was jump up on the kitchen table.  The night before, some friends and I played Scrabble.  A typical Saturday night activity.  It kept us occupied, and didn’t cost anything.  Which was good, because we didn’t have much money.  Like me, my friends delivered pizza and other Italian food for Mr. Alberto’s, a restaurant in Charlotte, NC.

 

The Scrabble board was still sitting on the table, and the cat began pushing the tiles around.  I thought he was just playing with them.  But when he finished, he’d arranged them in two rows.  The first row was PATRIOTSBYJ.  The second was LINGUINE.

 

I was astonished that the cat had managed to arrange the letters in what appeared to be words.  I said, “What does ‘Patriots by J’ mean?”  The cat reached out with a solitary claw, and began tapping on the lower right corner of the J.  Where each tile had the number of points the letter was worth.  He seemed to be saying, “Patriots by 8.”  

 

I turned on the TV and went to the guide.  Sure enough, the Patriots were playing the Jets in the early game.  I thought, “What the heck.  I’ve got nothing better to do, I’ll watch the game.”  I sprawled on the couch.  The cat curled up in my lap and fell asleep.

 

The game came down to the last possession.  The heavily favored Patriots had a one point lead, but the Jets were driving.  It didn’t look good for the cat’s prediction.  The Jets called time out with 4 seconds on the clock.  They were on the Patriots’ five yard line.  They were an easy field goal away from a two point victory.

 

I couldn’t believe what happened next.  Billy Joe McAllister broke through the Jets line and blocked the kick.  The ball bounced backwards, and Charlie Parker picked it up and began running down the field.  There was no way any of the Jets’ lineman were going to catch the speedy cornerback.  The clock had expired when Parker crossed the goal line.  Foxboro Stadium erupted in bedlam and the fans didn’t stop yelling until long after the extra point attempt split the uprights.

 

Against all odds, the cat’s prediction was true.  The Patriots won by eight points.

 

When I saw Parker heading down the field, I jumped up and started screaming.  The cat went flying.  When I finished screaming, I realized there was a wet spot on my pants.  Where the cat had been drooling while he slept.  That was how Slobber got his name.

 

(Author’s note:  While it is true that Slobber does not actually talk, would you have read the story if it were titled Slobber, The Cat Who Communicated With Scrabble Tiles?)

 

Slobber meowed loudly when I ejected him from my lap.  By the time the game ended, he was back on the kitchen table, poking a claw at the Scrabble board.  I walked over, and saw he was tapping on the other row of tiles.  Linguine.  I picked up the phone and called Mr. Alberto’s.  Twenty minutes later, Slobber was chowing down on Linguine Carbonara, from a bowl on the kitchen table.

 

When he finished eating, he turned to the Scrabble board.  VIKINGSBY14.  And, FETTUCINIALFREDO.  Apparently, Slobber liked Italian food.

 

I pulled out my wallet.  I had $21 to my name.  I called my bookie.  

 

“What’s the line on the Vikings-Packers game?”  

 

“Vikings by 6.”  

 

“I’m putting $20 on the Vikings.”  

 

Later that evening, I met the man at a downtown bar to pick up my winnings.  On the way home I picked up another carryout order for Slobber.

 

That’s how things got started.  As the winnings piled up, I went from $20 per game, up to $100.  I realized, I better not win every time, that would look suspicious.  My routine became to bet on five games at a time, and never win more than four.  Every now and then, I’d intentionally lose three of the five games.  Losing was just as easy as winning, because Slobber was never wrong.

 

Then, the inevitable happened.  My bookie refused to take my bets.  He said he was tired of losing money to me.  I was worried.  I didn’t want the gravy train to end.  As usual, Slobber had the answer.  When I explained the situation to him, he began arranging Scrabble tiles.  

 

LASVEGAS.

 

It made sense.  Gambling was legal in Nevada, and there were hundreds of casinos and betting parlors in Vegas.  I could spread the bets out and it would take a long time for anyone to realize how much money I was taking from them.

 

By then I’d saved up enough to buy a better car.  I quit my job at Mr. Alberto’s, packed my belongings into the Ford Explorer, and Slobber and I made the journey west.

 

Las Vegas was filled with high stakes gamblers.  I resisted the temptation to gamble big, and kept my bets to $1000 a game.  During the football season, I made over $10 thousand a week.  The rest of the year, I paid rent the old fashioned way, by delivering food for Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant.  It kept me busy, and made it easy to feed Slobber.  I’d learned long before, he wouldn’t touch cat food.  Italian food only.

 

Our Las Vegas run lasted more than seven years.  Inevitably, people caught on to how much I was winning, and began to refuse my bets.  It seemed our winning streak was coming to an end.  As usual, Slobber had the answer, spelled out on the Scrabble board that permanently sat on the kitchen table.  “ESPNCONNORSCHELL.”  

 

Connor Schell was ESPN’s director of programming.  It was time for me to go legit.  If I could convince him of my skill at predicting football games, I could get a job on SportsCenter.  ESPN had plenty of talking heads, calling the games every week, and none of them were in Slobber’s league.  

 

Slobber and I headed east, to Bristol, Connecticut.

 

There was a vacancy in an apartment building across Middle Street from the ESPN complex.  I signed a lease, put down a pet deposit, and Slobber and I moved in.  I began stalking Connor Schell.  In a few days, I knew where he lived, where he liked to eat, and most importantly, where he filled his car with gas.

 

It was a simple matter to follow him from work to the gas station.  I parked behind him, took a deep breath, and mentally ran through what I was going to say.  I’d only get one chance.  I grabbed the sheet of paper, with Slobber’s predictions for next week’s games, and got out of the car.

 

“Mr. Schell, I promise I won’t waste much of your time.  My name is Johnny McKay, and I’m the best football prognosticator on the planet.”  The man had a grim look on his face, but he took the piece of paper when I handed it to him.  “Those are my predictions for the upcoming games.  I guarantee every one of them are right.  I’d like a job on SportsCenter.  My phone number is at the bottom of the page.  I look forward to hearing from you.”

When I drove off, I saw him fold up the paper and put it in is pocket.  Now, all I had to do was wait.  

 

Sunday evening, a few minutes after the late game ended, my phone rang.  “Johnny, this is Connor Schell.  I don’t know how you are doing it, but all of your predictions are right.  I’ll tell you what.  If you get the Monday night game right, be at my office Tuesday morning at 9am and we’ll talk.”

 

That was how I got my first job at ESPN.  As before, I was careful not to get every game right.  But the other analysts were lucky to be right half the time. Each week, I made sure my accuracy ranged between 65 and 80 percent.  Not so good that it would look like the situation was somehow rigged, but clearly better than anyone else.  Within 3 months, I had my own show.  “Johnny McKay Talks Football” became ESPN’s highest rated show.

 

I bought a house in a nice Bristol neighborhood, with a fenced in back yard, for Slobber to roam around in.  He made the predictions, I filmed the TV show, and various Italian restaurants delivered whatever Slobber wanted.  We fell into a routine.

 

But nothing lasts forever.  By the time filming started on my fifth season, Slobber was 16 years old.  I could tell, he was having trouble jumping up on the kitchen table.  The vet said he had arthritis in his hips.  I put the Scrabble board on the floor.  Then one day it happened.  Instead of seeing Slobber’s predictions, neatly lined up on the board, there was just one row of tiles. 

 

IMRETIRED.

 

I picked Slobber up and sat on the couch.  “Well buddy, we had one hell of a run.  You’ve been the best friend I could have ever asked for.”  He curled up in my lap, fell asleep, and began drooling.  I pondered the future.  It didn’t take long to figure out what to do next.

 

After I quit my job at ESPN, I put the house up for sale, packed up the Mercedes, and Slobber and I headed south.  To Jacksonville, Florida, where the weather would be easy on Slobber’s arthritic hips.  I’d been saving money for years.  I had no trouble buying out a pizza joint on Edgewood Avenue.  The new sign had a picture of a cat chomping down on a pizza slice, and the banner said “Slobber’s Italian Bistro.”

 

We make our pizza with thin crust, New York style.  The linguine carbonara is the best you’ll find in the state of Florida.  And if you play Scrabble against Slobber, pay attention.  He’s been known to cheat.

 


© Copyright 2018 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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